affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Definition of affection

1 : a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something : tender attachment : fondness She had a deep affection for her parents.
2 : a moderate feeling or emotion
3a(1) : a bodily condition
(2) : disease, malady a pulmonary affection
b : attribute shape and weight are affections of bodies
4 obsolete : partiality, prejudice
5 : the feeling aspect (as in pleasure) of consciousness
7 : the action of affecting : the state of being affected
8 : umlaut sense 2 used especially in the grammar of the Celtic languages

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from affection

affectionless \ -​ləs How to pronounce affectionless (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for affection

feeling, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation. feeling denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion; it may suggest the mere existence of a response but imply nothing about the nature or intensity of it. the feelings that once moved me are gone emotion carries a strong implication of excitement or agitation but, like feeling, encompasses both positive and negative responses. the drama portrays the emotions of adolescence affection applies to feelings that are also inclinations or likings. a memoir of childhood filled with affection for her family sentiment often implies an emotion inspired by an idea. her feminist sentiments are well known passion suggests a very powerful or controlling emotion. revenge became his ruling passion

Affectation and Affection

Affectation looks a lot like a much more common word, affection. But the two are used very differently.

The more familiar word, affection, in modern use means "a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something," as in "They show their dog a lot of affection."

Affectation, on the other hand, refers to a form of behavior that's unnatural to the person engaging in it, and that is meant to impress other people. A phony accent someone uses to sound more sophisticated, for example, can be considered an affectation, as can pretending to know all about some obscure band in order to seem cool.

The words don't have much in common in their use, but their similarity in appearance is not coincidence. Both have to do with one of the trickiest words in the language: affect.

Affect is one of the most frequently looked-up words in the dictionary, primarily because of its regular confusion with effect. The short rationale that you often hear when it comes to distinguishing the two is that effect is usually a noun and affect is a verb. The breakdown isn't all that simple, however, and what makes things even more confusing is that there are two verb entries for affect.

One affect entry is for the sense meaning "to produce an effect upon (someone)" or "to act upon (a person, a person's mind or feelings, etc.) so as to effect a response." This is the sense that connects to affection, as in "We were affected by the young woman's heartfelt speech." Being affected by something in this way doesn't necessarily result in affection, but it can.

The other verb affect is defined as "to make a display of liking or using : cultivate" or "to put a pretense on : feign." It is used when talking about things like styles or mannerisms, as in "He affected a British accent and tweedy look after reading nothing but Sherlock Holmes stories for months on end."

The two verbs affect took different etymological paths from the same origin. The "put on a pretense" sense of affect derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin affectāre, meaning "to try to accomplish, strive after, pretend to have." Affectāre is a derivative of afficere, which means "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on"; the affect related to affection is from a variant of afficere.

Examples of affection in a Sentence

She has deep affection for her parents. He shows great affection for his grandchildren. feelings of love and affection He now looks back on those years with great affection. She developed a deep affection for that country and its people.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

And then, Leonard stands up to reciprocate his mother's affection. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Big Bang Theory," 10 May 2019 When filmmaker Milos Forman died earlier this year, there seemed to be a tremendous outpouring of affection and tribute from other filmmakers in particular. Mark Olsen, latimes.com, "Indie Focus: Finding new paths in 'Damsel,' 'Half the Picture' and 'Eating Animals'," 24 June 2018 Langford plays Tessa, the good girl object of his affection. Marie Claire, "How Well Do After Co-Stars Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Josephine Langford Know Each Other?," 12 Apr. 2019 The gateway to ugly — an adjective used here with affection — was the Birkenstock. Robin Givhan, The Seattle Times, "Are designers trolling us with ‘ugly’ fashion — or is it us?," 6 Aug. 2018 Her students received her many kindnesses with reciprocal affection for her. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Marie T. Fenton," 25 Mar. 2018 Rebecca Miller, when the camera turns to her, watches him intently, with palpable affection. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "A Loving Portrait of Arthur Miller," 19 Mar. 2018 As the only male in the bunch, Bowles was not only showered with affection, but also some well-meant teasing. Yadira Sanchez Olson, Lake County News-Sun, "Seniors approaching, or past, the century mark honored at Waukegan celebration," 4 Mar. 2018 And their intensity of affection, their immediacy and attraction, cuts through the language barrier. Misha Berson, The Seattle Times, "Here’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ like you’ve never seen it, with the star-crossed lovers bridging the gap between American Sign Language and English," 20 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affection.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of affection

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for affection

Middle English affeccioun "capacity for feeling, emotion, desire, love," borrowed from Anglo-French, "desire, love, inclination, partiality," borrowed from Latin affectiōn-, affectiō "frame of mind, feeling, feeling of attachment," from affec- (variant stem of afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on") + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at affect entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about affection

Statistics for affection

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for affection

The first known use of affection was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for affection

affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Kids Definition of affection

: a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something He shows great affection for his grandchildren.

affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Medical Definition of affection

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a moderate feeling or emotion
2 : the feeling aspect (as in pleasure or displeasure) of consciousness

affection

noun

Medical Definition of affection (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action of affecting : the state of being affected
2a : a bodily condition
b : disease, malady a pulmonary affection

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on affection

What made you want to look up affection? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!